If you have looked into yixing clay before then you have probably heard people suggesting only to use your yixing teaware with one type of tea. This is because the clay is porous and easily absorbs flavors and aromas.
It is, in fact, one of the qualities why yixing pottery is so prized. The unglazed teaware works to our benefit when the clay absorbs the tea’s taste and becomes coated with the tea leaf’s natural oils. Eventually, after many gong fu cha ceremonies, the teaware will have its own taste. This taste is what many tea connoisseurs seek. Even when pouring hot water into a coated yixing, the water will have a strong flavor of tea.
For this reason, it is recommended to stick with one type of tea when using yixing teaware, so the complex flavor profiles don’t end up masking each other.
So Which Yixing Teapot Do You Choose For Your Tea?
- For Ripe Pu-erh:
A teapot with thick walls and high porosity
- For Raw Pu-erh:
A teapot with medium to low porosity and not so thick walls
- For Black Tea (Hong cha):
Teapots with thicker walls and a small spout works best
Round teapots work well at… rounding out and mellowing teas, as well as making them sweeter! They also ensure that certain tea types, like rolled oolong, have enough room to expand.
Tall teapots are perfect for dark oolongs and certain black teas with large leaves, such as Dian Hong.
Flat teapots with thick walls will also work well with darker teas. Since darker teas require longer brewing times, the tea leaves rest on the flat bottom, releasing their best qualities.
On the other hand, flat teapots with thin walls will work well with lighter teas. Due to the larger surface and thinner walls, the teapot will be cooling off relatively fast and prevent more delicate teas from overcooking while allowing them to release all the taste.
- For Light, Rolled Oolongs:
Round teapots with thinner walls and medium to low porosity work best
- For Dark, Twisted Oolongs:
We think that tall teapots work best for this type of tea. But some prefer brewing dark, oxidized oolongs in flatter pots, arguing that flatter teapots add stability to brewing, concealing the roasted notes and revealing yan yun/shan yun of such teas. In any case, the clay should be of medium porosity.
- For White, Green & Yellow teas:
Flat or round teapots with wide mouth, low porosity and thin walls work best. Also, for better cooling effect, consider a teapot with short legs.
A well-seasoned flat bottom yixing will conceal the less favorable bitter notes and strong roast of certain teas, bring forth the gentlest of aromas and all the sweet notes.
We recommend sticking to one tea type per teapot for as long as you can and experience the difference side by side with a regular (non-seasoned teapot).
For Yellow, Green, and White Teas: Pay extra importance to the walls, which should be thinner than other teapots. These tea types are very delicate. Thus the teaware should conduct heat and not retain it to help not to over-brew the tea. In general, these lighter tea types (greens, yellows, and whites) are rarely drunk from yixing clay teaware. For these delicate teas, porcelain and glass work best.
What Are The Different Types Of Yixing Clay (ZiSha)?
- Zhu Sha / Zhu Ni (Purple Clay):
Zhu Ni clay teapots are fragile and challenging to make because of the high shrinkage of the material when it gets into a kiln. The clay is high on iron and not very porose. After the firing, the color is reddish-brown, and the finish is iconically glossy as if it had been seasoned with tea for ages. Amongst teaware enthusiasts, it's a sought out clay
ZiSha purple clay teaware (Zi Ni) is some of the most popular due to its availability, mineral composition, and high porosity of the clay – qualities responsible for transforming tea's taste.
- Hong Ni (Red Clay):
Red clay is relatively scarce, and Hong Ni teapots yield a higher price. The mineral composition is similar to Zi Ni clay but slightly less porous.
Duanni translates as "fortified clay" and is composed of various minerals, resulting in a large array of colors: from beige to yellow, blue and green. Duanni clay is high in minerals, porous and can interact with tea in a very positive way.
- Lu Ni (Green Clay):
Lu Ni is the rarest of the above, with only about 2% of the entire yixing clay production. The fired clay is of green color and has excellent heat retaining properties.
For more information on teaware check out our articles Choosing The Right Teaware For Gongfucha and What You Need To Know Before Purchasing A Yixing Teapot.